About the Author
As a marketing and communication specialist, Anna Hutton-North has been writing all of her life.
As the winner of the Bauer Media short story at the age of 14, she has since regularly contributed articles to newspapers and trade press journals. She has also recently won The Stirling Cup awarded by HFWI. Her debut novel is "Shop Talk", and the second "Rural Affairs" is due out at Christmas.
Anna lives in an idyllic Hertfordshire village with her husband and daughter, and an array of constantly visiting pets.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The church stood tall and solid as the dull persistent rain fell on the huddled congregation; the top of the spire was hidden amongst grey swollen clouds. Around the newly dug grave the funeral party shivered as the damp seeped through their clothing. Josie watched numbly as the coffin of her husband was lowered into the hole, unable to summon up any emotion other than continued disbelief at what was happening. The news had come as a sudden shock; it wasn't something she had been ready for. Waking up to a pale faced policeman standing in her mother's sitting room telling her that Nick was dead. They had told her that Nick had died in a car accident down one of the country lanes. It was an image that haunted Josie during her sleep, wrecking her dreams with its sudden appearance. She would see Nick driving along the unfamiliar roads in the dark visibility lessened by the blanket of rain, and then the abrupt screech of the brakes and the metallic splitting of the crash as the vehicle skidded off the road and collided, the sound drowning out the drivers' screams. The urgent but futile attendance of the emergency services to deal with the already dead driver.
The shrill ring of the telephone broke into Josie's thoughts, transporting her back to reality. Tentatively she put out her hand to pick up the receiver; since Nick's death she had shut herself away; trying to make some kind of sense of the situation.
"Hello?" Her voice sounded strange to her ears after being quiet for so long.
"Josie?" The booming voice down the phone bought instant comfort. "Is that you?" Tara; her best friend. The one person who had been absent when Josie had needed her the most.
"Yes it's me."
"How are you? No, cancel that question. It's obvious how you'll be feeling." Her voice softened. "I've only just heard. We landed this morning and I've only just listened to our answer phone. I'm sorry love."
"Don't worry! I told Jeremy if he ever took me on a 3 week cruise again when my friend needed me - I'd kill him. Ohmigod, I can't believe I said that. If I bring a bottle of vino round will you forgive me?"
"Of course." Josie laughed, everything suddenly seemed a little less awful.
"At least if I've got a mouthful of wine there won't be room for my foot as well." Tara said ruefully.
Despite it being a mission of mercy Josie knew Tara well enough to know that it would take her at least 30 minutes to select the right outfit for consoling, apply her already perfect make-up and to select just the right bottle of wine for the occasion.
Looking round she was glad for Tara's foibles. She hadn't done anything to the flat since she had been told of Nick's death. Gazing round the sitting room she wondered how it had come to resemble this. The once pristine minimalist décor had been transposed with accessories of dirty plates, discarded clothing and... what was that? A baby's blanket? Oh yes, she grimaced at the recollection of being so distraught after the funeral that she had picked up her niece's pram blanket thinking it was her pashmina.
Thirty minutes later and both the flat and Josie stood transformed. For the first time in weeks she had tidied, washed and blow dried. As she stood contemplating her reflection she realised that her weight had plummeted since Nick's death. Like every woman Josie always wanted to be a bit taller and a bit thinner, but now that she was thinner she somehow looked less attractive. She'd always joked about her slight roundness being far more attractive to men than the stick women she called her friends - but deep down she'd envied them. So now she had joined their ranks why wasn't she out celebrating? The door bell rang announcing the arrival of Tara; opening the door Josie found herself enveloped in a huge woolly hug.